Granite Bay wrestler makes the call: Just cut it out, Doc

After all he’s been through, Sean Brown wasn’t about to let a little ol’ torn meniscus keep him from wrestling in his senior year
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
-A +A

With the 49ers heading to the Super Bowl next week, it’s inevitable that stories about their all-time great teams and players will be re-told.

Ronnie Lott, for example, is a Hall of Famer who was known as an intense, heavy-hitting tackling machine, a man so passionate about the game that he played the week after damaging his left pinky finger so bad he had a portion of it amputated in the offseason.

Sean Brown is no Ronnie Lott. He’s more. Brown, a senior at Granite Bay High School, has been through so many injuries and illnesses the past two years he’s more along the lines of Doug Gilmour (Google “Doug Gilmour, hockey, Blackhawks and injuries”).

Four months ago, a doctor was telling Brown surgery was needed on a torn meniscus in his knee and there would be no wrestling season. Today, he’s ranked 22nd in the state at 126 pounds by, beating grapplers ranked higher than him and gunning for a berth — and a medal, even a title — in the CIF State Championships on March 1-2 in Bakersfield.

“There was no way I could miss my senior year with what I know I can accomplish,” Brown said Tuesday, one day before the Grizzlies were to visit Roseville for a Sierra Foothill League dual meet.

Brown said he knew right away something was wrong during a match at Natomas in October. A doctor recommended surgery to repair his meniscus.

“I was about to cry when he said I was done,” said Brown, who talked to his dad, Rich, and decided on an alternative: Doctors would remove half of the meniscus instead of repairing it. That would still mean 10 weeks of rehabilitation, but Brown would be able to return to the mat in December.

“The doctor said at 40 or so, I have a pretty good chance of arthritis,” said Brown, the SFL champion at 120 pounds last season. “I was willing to take that risk. I don’t regret it at all. I’m so happy.”

“It was his choice,” Rich Brown said.

The meniscus was just the latest and, Brown hopes, last setback. Two summers ago, he broke two ribs at a tournament in Los Angeles while training for the USA Wrestling Junior Greco Nationals in Fargo, N.D. He had appendicitis and surgery just before Fargo. Brown came back last season with a goal of going to the state meet, but he became ill before the Masters and didn’t make weight.

“I remember sitting in the stands that day watching two or three people I beat that season go to state in front of me,” Brown said. “That really lit the fire inside me.”

Brown qualified for Fargo and continued to train.

“I was training so hard I’d go to Clovis on Friday night, then come back and wrestle (in the Sacramento area) again on the weekend,” Brown said.

Then came the injury at Natomas, the decision to remove part of the meniscus, and 10 weeks of rehab.

Not yet 100 percent, Brown opened with a 2-2 record at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December, including a 5-3 decision over three-time Nevada state champ Layton Perry.

“He didn’t medal, but he realized with a little more work and rehab, he’s going to get there,” Rich Brown said.

Brown came away from the tough Zinkin Classic in Clovis with a 4-2 record, went 6-3 and earned an eighth-place medal at the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno, and he climbed to second at the NorCal Championships in Anderson.

Last weekend, Brown blew through the first three rounds at the Tim Brown Invitational in Sacramento with two technical falls and a 6-1 decision before losing 3-0 in the semifinals to Clovis West’s Michael Knoblauch, ranked fifth in the state. Brown scored a 14-3 major decision over No. 18 Layne Embrey of Orland and edged sixth-ranked Logan Fore of Windsor 2-1 for third.

Now, Brown is thinking about winning another SFL title, winning a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I crown, erasing the nightmare of the 2012 Masters Championships and tearing it up in Bakersfield.

“Not only medal; I have a shot at winning it,” Brown said. “I can beat these kids.”

Granite Bay coach Robert Cooley said his team captain has the charisma, work ethic and determination to make it happen.

“I think he’s going to be knocking on some doors,” said Cooley, who has coached Brown since junior high school. “I’m saddling him up, and we’re going to ride him to the show. That’s our goal.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.